Savant Syndrome brings out the remarkable human abilities that lie dormant in each of us.
Savant Syndrome is not exactly an illness or disorder. Children born with the deficiencies associated with savant also show amazing abilities. Other times Savant can be acquired after a severe head trauma. Although the human brain is a complex organ, its anatomy is not the concern of this article. What is relevant is the neuroscience of the brain. There are certain chemicals in our bodies that send messages for bodily functions. One of those chemicals is Serotonin.
Serotonin is in charge of memory and learning.
Sometimes this hormone will attach itself to blood platelets. When the body needs to clot, serotonin can be released. Many believe after a severe head trauma the brain tries to repair itself. It does this by creating new neural pathways, synapses and releases serotonin for healing.
After forming new connections, changes in behavior, creativity, perceptions, thought patterns, memory, attitudes and various other profound reactions result. Imagine a computer hooked up to a helmet with millions of wires that send electric currents to nodules on the helmet. You can understand the energy and electricity that would pass.
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Now imagine you replace the millions of connections with new ones. New currents and energy would disperse to a completely different location through changed nodules at varying speeds delivering new astounding messages.
In cases of acquired savant syndrome, the person who received the head trauma recover with the brain having worked out new pathways and synapses for neurons to message each other. The after effects show in many cases abilities and gifts not known before.
Derek Amado is a primary example of acquired savant syndrome.
Derek was playing ball one day with his friends. He dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool and hit his head on the bottom of the pool. After five days he awoke from the head trauma. Derek is now capable of playing the piano like a concert pianist. He claims he can see black and white cubes in his head. Each cube contains music notes, and he simply plays what he sees.
His musical abilities are breathtaking. However, along with this magic ability comes a heightened awareness of light and sound. Derek suffers from terrible headaches, loss of hearing and memory loss. His new found ability has come with a price.
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Stephen Wiltshire also has savant syndrome.
He was born as a mute and soon diagnosed as autistic. After being sent to a special school, Stephen began to display captivating drawings of people he knew and saw on the street. His drawings were soon shown in a gallery.
Now Stephen has sensational abilities to capture detailed images through his media. Stephen was taken to Tokyo. There he flew in a helicopter looking at the city for only twenty minutes. Additionally, he stood on a balcony taking in the nuances and particulars of the city.
Following his brief tour, Stephen began to draw the city from every angle on a panoramic easel. His drawing is shockingly accurate and beautiful.
Leslie Lemke is another amazing avant.
He had severe birth defects prompting doctors to remove his eyes. Adopted at a young age, his mother raised him as a normal child. Leslie couldn’t control his muscles. Movement of any kind was forced upon him. One day at the age of sixteen, his mother awoke in the middle of the night and found Leslie at the piano playing a concerto.
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From that day onward, he blossomed. He slowly learned how to talk, and now he sings. Leslie is an inspiration to his mother and us. Overcoming difficulties and being thankful for the abilities you do have. Thank you, Leslie!
Kim Peek is another very famous example of savant syndrome.
The movie Rain Man portrays the life of Kim Peek. As a child of nine months old, doctors labeled him mentally retarded and urged Peek’s father to institutionalize and forget about him completely. Instead, Peek’s father cultivated his intellect. Certainly, he benefits from and needs occupational therapy. There are many simple tasks Kim can’t do for himself.
Notwithstanding, Kim has accomplishments some of us could never dream of. At age four, Kim had completed reading a full set of encyclopedias. By age fourteen he had finished learning a full high school curriculum.
Kim can read with his both eyes simultaneously. He commands the ability to peruse two pages in a book within ten seconds, and his recall is exact. He recounts and remembers every book, map, the other material he can gaze upon. Kim remembers facts, figures past and present. He can also compute future dates and times.
There are countless more people with savant syndrome and each has undeniable supernatural abilities.
We do understand there is a dark side. The unfortunate side effects from acquired savant syndrome following a severe brain trauma are unquestionably debilitating. Additionally, Derek Amado has confessed that sometimes, his headaches are so severe he would do anything to put a stop to them. At the same time, he believes he must share with the world his gift.
Furthermore, handicap is not a word analogous to someone with savant syndrome. These special individuals show us valiantly how striking the contrast of abilities versus disabilities.
Each one of these people understands they are amazing and special in their own way. It is a lesson for the rest of us ordinary folk. Having a gift is not enough. Show it to others and see how you transform the world around you.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. There is no obligation to define weaknesses as handicaps.
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